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APPLYING PRACTICAL INSIGHT TO
COMPLEX FINANCIAL CONCEPTS

Karen Firestone has spent over thirty years honing skills applied to
the investment world, while at the same time navigating a path through the work/familyscape. She considers many issues from an unusual angle, including stock market movement, factors facing professional women today, and how to think in simple terms about some complex financial structures. Karen shares her observations in posts that also appear in the Harvard Business Review and Huffington Post. As the CEO of Aureus Asset Management, a former fund manager at Fidelity Investments, and the mother of four grown children, Karen has a rare perspective into which she injects humor and some irreverence.

Who Dares Bake Cookies for the Office?

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Recently, I asked one of my partners, a big, strong father of three, what he had done over the weekend. He explained that while his wife was out one rainy afternoon, he and the kids baked blueberry crumble, then assembled a confection known as an “ice box cake” and also tried a new multi-step red…

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Look Who’s Distracted Now

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When acclaimed hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones revealed his opinion that women become much less effective as stock traders or investors once they have children, he was, in a sense, suggesting that the distraction of motherhood—a distinctly feminine condition—exceeds that of other attention-siphoning activities. I was reminded of how, almost thirty years ago, I…

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Managing in a Safety-Centric World

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Safety is now Americans’ overriding concern. Several years ago, as I sat in a secondary school board meeting, the visiting headmaster of a K-8 school was asked what he considered the highest priority for parents in choosing high schools. I was astounded when he said “safety” rather than, for example, “quality of education.” But that…

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How Should a Small Business Handle Parental Leave?

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Although the U.S. is a highly developed country, the US government’s work/family policies have not changed since 1993, when the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed. We are the only developed country without any required paid parental leave. (FMLA entitles employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave with an equivalent position available on return.) Even…

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“Actually,” She Said, “He Works for Me.”

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Let’s agree that gender stereotyping still exists. We may try to suppress the subconscious image of political leaders, doctors, and CEO’s as male, but that’s what pops into our heads when we hear those professions. What’s ironic is that I’m the CEO of an investment company, so, if I struggle with this, I suspect others…

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To Catch a Thief: What We Can Learn From Online Dating

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As I woke on a recent morning, the first thing I heard on the radio was a story about Florian Homm, a flamboyant German financier who had been on the run for five years for allegedly stealing over $200M from his Absolute Capital Hedge Fund. Mr. Homm was arrested in a sting operation at none…

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When a Product Fails, Find a New Direction

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Your company has just developed an amazing new product. Years of development, energy, and, of course, money have gone into it. Hype and excitement behind the launch pushes it into high gear. But it falls apart at the seams at the last moment, leaving your company on the brink of disaster. What do you do next?

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The Catch-22 of Being a Female Boss

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The careers for most women follow an expected trajectory: We begin in our 20s, surrounded by young colleagues of both sexes; move into our 30s, when some of us leave entirely or shift to reduced hours to raise families; then throttle on through our 40s, the decade of major career advancement. As the ranks of…

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Understanding Financial Leverage

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“Leverage” is one of the more interesting and difficult concepts to fully grasp in all of finance, but it’s important for anyone that borrows or plans to borrow money to understand. Much of the confusion stems from the contrasting meanings embedded in the same word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary includes two very different definitions. The first suggests…

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What a Pain to Manage Pain

I have spent the last 72 hours thinking about pain. My own post-surgical pain, the way to manage whatever pain I have been experiencing, and why, in 2013, we have such problems involving the use or misuse of pain medication. The medical community needs to rethink and revise its management of pain. As a result…

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